Tyler Perry's powerful People's Choice Awards speech is exactly what 2017 needs.

On Jan. 18, 2017, Tyler Perry was honored as Favorite Humanitarian at the People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People's Choice Awards.

Perry's nonprofit, the Perry Foundation, has funneled millions of dollars toward groups like Charity Water and Feeding America as well as taken aim at ending homelessness and supporting civil rights issues.


On stage accepting the honor, Perry began his speech on a somewhat peculiar topic: the safety regulations of the building he was standing in.

It's standard the facility abides by important rules, Perry noted, like having a sprinkler system in place and fire extinguishers at hand, should they be needed. But he also mentioned what would happen if, suddenly, the lights were to go out.

"If the lights go out in this building right now, there are these little lights — you see them on the wall, they have back-up batteries in them," Perry explained. "And what will happen is, it will light your way out of the darkness."

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People's Choice Awards.

Those battery-powered lights, he argued, can teach us an important life lesson.

Perry's speech focused on becoming a positive force for good in other people's lives when they need it most.

“What I have found, and what’s been so important to me right now, is that — as I look at the state of the world and the state of our country and everything that is going on, it is so important that we know that no matter how dark it gets, we all have to be light for each other."

Perry sat next to Ellen DeGeneres, who won Favorite Humanitarian at the 2016 People's Choice Awards. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People's Choice Awards.

Perry continued (emphasis added):

"You turn on your phone, you turn on your television, you’re met with darkness, negativity, death, destruction, terrorism, murder, hate, racism. You know, you don’t even need to search for it, because it’s searching for you. It can find you. It’s right there beside you; it’s in your pocket. You have to be careful — when you have things that close to your pocket that they don’t seep into your heart.

You see, if you keep taking it in, it can consume you; it can make you become cynical and jaded and remove you from all of the struggles of our brothers and sisters and look at them and think, "Well, it’s just another person going through.' But what is so important that we all understand is no matter what everybody's going through, anybody’s going through, we’re all going through it together."

Perry's speech, given just two days before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, was especially relevant.

For plenty of people tuning in, there are many questions and even more anxieties about what the future holds. A divisive, controversial election fueled by bigotry and scapegoating lead to a bitter presidential transition, and several marginalized groups are feeling more scared than ever before thinking about what comes after Jan. 20, 2017.

Perry's speech illustrated the power of thinking selflessly, especially in times like these.

There are many ways to turn that fear of the dark into something positive: volunteer, protest, become an ally, stay engaged, donate to causes you believe in, and — as Perry encouraged — be a guiding light when it's needed most.

"If the power’s going out in your life or in somebody’s life around [you], and they don’t know if they can find their way out, be that light for them," Perry concluded. "Let your light shine before them."

Watch Perry's full speech at the People's Choice Awards below:

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Canva

Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!